Florida Coral Damage Repair/Reporting/Processes

There is no process at this time.  All permits issued for this type of work fall in to one of following categories:

1)       The work is being done by a private contractor pursuant to an Enforcement Action by DEP or a county management agency.  The private contractor is hired by the party responsible for causing the damage.  This does not require a permit the enforcement action is the permit.

2)       DEP or whoever did not choose to file an enforcement action because the work is being done voluntarily, and the work needs to be authorized which is when I would permit it.  This is still work done by a private contractor who is hired by the person responsible for causing the damage.

3)       A damaged area is discovered and the responsible party cannot be found or determined.  In this case we have only had one volunteer organization who has ever asked to do the repair work.  The permits for this are issued on a case by case basis as damage is found. 

The following is some information that I put together to explain permitting for coral repair activities.

 WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

When you discover coral damage, you can collect valuable information for us to start the ball rolling.  If you would please note the GPS coordinates for the area, note damaged species type and sizes if possible, document the area with video or photography if possible, then contact the nearest FWC, DEP, FKNMS, or local environmental office such as the Broward County Dept. of Environmental Protection.  PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO UPRIGHT CORALS!!!  This activity is actually counteractive to any repair operation, not to mention illegal.  When corals are up righted, the extent of the damage cannot be detected because the corals appear to be attached.  This impacts any survey of the damaged area that is done to assess the fines and penalties for guilty parties, and it may also mean that the damaged corals never get repaired because they appear to be attached and cannot be located.

 

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

When a state, federal, or county agency have been notified of coral damage, the following process takes place:

1)         We attempt to determine whether the area has been damaged due to human impact.  The video and photography really comes in handy for us to examine the type of the damage and to see if we should send divers out to examine and document the area further.  Priority is placed on repairing damage from human causes (anthropogenic is the technical term).  Resources are limited and we focus those resources on repairing human caused damage rather than damage due to natural causes.

2)         We work with other state, federal and local agencies to try and determine who may be the responsible party as in the case of damage due to groundings, cable drag, survey work, etc.  Sometimes it is possible to determine a guilty party because we are all aware of vessel groundings, dredging projects, pipeline surveying projects, etc., and the damage may be in an area where we know that this type of work is being done.

3)         The FWC does issue licenses for coral repair to qualified volunteer organizations that have demonstrated experience conducting successful hard bottom reparation activities only:

* When there is no enforcement action involved and the guilty party cannot be determined;

* When there is no funding available to conduct the repair work through agency personnel or contractors; and

* When the dislodged corals cannot be utilized or are not appropriate for other ongoing repair projects.

The FWC coordinates the issuance of these licenses with the appropriate state, federal and local agencies to ensure that all agencies have input.  The FWC does not issue licenses for these type of activities within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.  In the grand scheme of things, the FWC license is the last option for conducting coral repairs.  

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